2021-09-16 12:24:06 Nicholas, Big and Slow – The New York Times

Nicholas, Big and Slow – The New York Times

Nicholas, the storm that made landfall in Texas on Tuesday, hasn’t traveled very far.

It began in southeastern Texas, dumping rain along the coast and causing power outages in Houston. Since then, the storm has moved east over Louisiana at speeds of up to two miles per hour. Today and tomorrow, Hurricane Nicholas is expected to cause flooding in Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida.

This type of storm — large and slow, bringing massive amounts of rain — is becoming an increasingly common part of life as a result of climate change.

There are two main reasons for this. One reason for this is that hotter air can hold more moisture than cooler air. (For the same reason, your skin stays drier in the summer than it does in the winter.) Warmer air, according to Princeton University scientist Gabriel Vecchi, is like a bigger bucket: it can carry more water from the oceans and dump it on land.

The second reason is that climate change appears to have slowed storm speeds, allowing them to spend more time in one place. According to one 2019 study, the average speed of storms near North America’s Atlantic coast has slowed by more than 15%.

Why? As Henry Fountain, a Times climate reporter, explained to me, wind speed is partly determined by the temperature difference between air masses. As the mixing air tries to reach equilibrium, a larger temperature difference causes faster winds. The Arctic’s warming has decreased the temperature difference between it and the Equator, weakening the winds that blow between them in North America. As a result of this weakness, tropical storms have moved more slowly.

Climate change is a fantastically complex phenomenon, and some individual storms may bear little resemblance to it. However, scientists believe that the scale and frequency of severe weather have changed too much in recent decades to reflect normal variation.

Many places are shifting even further to one extreme. Hot, dry places, such as much of the American West, have become hotter and drier, while wet places, such as the Gulf Coast, have become wetter.

Many structures were not designed to withstand such extreme weather. It causes more flooding, whether in basement apartments in New York or houses in Louisiana, as well as more power outages, wildfires, and heat deaths.

Nicholas is unlikely to be one of the worst storms to hit the United States in 2021, but that is part of the point. It’s the new normal, and it’s making life more difficult, especially for the tens of thousands of Louisiana residents who have been without power for the past two weeks due to another major storm, Hurricane Ida.

According to The Washington Post, Mount Shasta in California is nearly snowless, a rare occurrence that is assisting in the melting of the mountain’s glaciers.


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A ‘tsunami’ of race-related books

Following the murder of George Floyd last year, as well as widespread protests for racial justice across the United States, readers rushed to buy books about race and racism. Ijeoma Oluo’s “So You Want to Talk About Race” sold ten times as many copies as the previous year.

Publishers were taken notice. They signed deals for books about the experiences of Black Americans, Elizabeth Harris writes in The Times, many of which are coming out now. At least half a dozen new imprints prioritize books by and about people of color, including Roxane Gay Books, which the author and social commentator will edit; and Black Privilege Publishing, led by the radio host Charlamagne tha God.

“What we’re talking about is not the category of ‘books about Black people’ or ‘racism,’” said Chris Jackson, editor in chief at Random House’s One World. “We’re talking about the category of ‘books about the American experience.’”

Books that assess race through a conservative lens are taking off, too — including titles by Candace Owens and Mark R. Levin — thanks in part, Harris writes, to “aggressive coverage of critical race theory by outlets like Fox News.” — Sanam Yar, a Morning writer

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Nicholas, Big and Slow - The New York Times